What Does pH Do for a Pool?

The pH level in your pool is as vital to your swim as the water itself; it is a direct measure of how acidic or basic the water is. If a pH level is too low or high, you are swimming in trouble, as this can negatively affect your health. 

Read on to dive deeper into mastering your pool’s pH for a safe and refreshing swim.

What Happens if a Pool’s pH Is Too Low?

When the pH level drops below 7.2, your pool water becomes acidic. This acidic environment will not only be uncomfortable for swimmers but will also wreak havoc on your pool’s infrastructure. 

For example, the acidic nature of the water can damage your pool equipment, such as handrails, metal ladders, and the pump. Even your pool liner or plastic could start to wear away, leading to expensive repairs down the line. 

But that’s not all–a low pH can also complicate your pool’s sanitation. When the pH drops, chlorine becomes hyperactive. This results in rapid chlorine dissipation, which means you’ll be adding sanitizer more frequently and the costs will start to go up.

Moreover, acidic water can cause a condition known as “pool scale.” This is where minerals (mainly calcium) present in the water start to stick to pool surfaces, forming stubborn deposits. These deposits are not only unpleasant to look at but can also be a pain in the neck to remove, often requiring costly professional assistance.

What Happens if the Pool pH Is Too High?

When the pH level of a pool rises above 7.8, the water becomes too basic. Just like with low pH, high pH can also lead to skin rashes and itching, and a reduced efficiency of your pool’s sanitizer. 

When the pH is too high, chlorine isn’t as effective in eliminating bacteria and other harmful microorganisms as it normally is. This can result in a pool that looks clean but is actually teeming with invisible threats to your health. 

What Is the Ideal pH for a Pool?

A pool’s pH should be between 7.2 and 7.8. This range is considered neutral–not too acidic, not too alkaline. Moreover, it is a sweet spot where chlorine works its best, efficiently neutralizing bacteria and other harmful microorganisms without being used up too quickly.

Factors That Can Affect Your Pool’s pH Level 

Here are the key factors that can influence the pH of your pool: 

  1. Swimming: Every time someone takes a dip in your pool, the pH level can change. Sweat, sunscreen, cosmetics, and other bodily fluids can make the pool water more acidic. 
  2. Rain: Rainwater is slightly acidic and lowers the pH of your pool water.
  3. Pool chemicals: Pool chemicals like muriatic acid, sodium bicarbonate, and sodium bisulfate can alter the pH if not used properly. So, following the manufacturer’s recommendations is crucial to maintaining a normal pH range.
  4. Temperature: Increase in water temperature from zero degrees Celsius to ten degrees Celsius can drop pH by 0.2, while a drop in temperature can increase it. 
  5. Water source: The water source you use to fill your pool can greatly impact its pH level. If the source is highly acidic, the pool pH would also be acidic. 

The Takeaway

So, what does pH do for a pool? It ensures a safe and comfortable swimming experience. The optimal range for pool pH is between 7.2 and 7.8, which is where swimmers are the happiest, chlorine is the most effective, and pool equipment remains safe from corrosive or scaling damage. Make sure to regularly test your pool’s pH and make prompt adjustments if needed!

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